Human rights lawyers welcome ACT law legalising personal cannabis possession

September 30, 2019

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has welcomed Wednesday’s passage of legislation that allows people in the Australian Capital Territory to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana and to grow up to four plants per household.

ALHR President Kerry Weste said, “ALHR congratulates the ACT Parliament on the passage of these laws as an important step in reducing the harm caused by personal drug use and calls on the Federal Government to support the measures.”

”The laws are consistent with international guidance on the approach nation states should be taking to personal drug use. In November 2018, the United Nations Chief Executives Board – comprising 31 heads of UN agencies and associated programs – released a policy statement endorsing the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use. Indeed, the “directions for action” provided in this statement include a pledge “to promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use”.

“In March 2019 the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Development Program, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy released the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, which call on countries to utilise the available flexibilities in the United Nations drug control conventions to decriminalise the possession, purchase, or cultivation of controlled substances for personal consumption.”

ALHR strongly supports the decriminalisation of personal drug possession and use. Recreational drug use and drug addiction should be approached as health issues, not as criminal ones. Criminalising people who use drugs does nothing to protect their health, nor deter them from using drugs. In fact, recidivism for drug offenders is very common because the criminalisation of personal drug use and possession traps addicts in a cycle of drug-related crime and incarceration.”

”Laws and policies relating to personal drug use and possession must be formulated from within a human rights framework. If politicians engage in this debate with an open mind, and a sincere intention to reduce the harm caused by drugs and respect people’s human rights, then they will have no choice but to see illicit substance use as a health issue, rather than a criminal act.”

 Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.